Chase Claypool

ESPN gives Bears terrible grade for Chase Claypool trade

The Chicago Bears are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

It wasn’t long ago that NFL pundits bashed GM Ryan Poles for not adding talent around QB Justin Fields during his first offseason on the job. The Bears didn’t sign a wide receiver in free agency, nor did they spend one of their two second-round picks on a pass-catcher in the 2022 NFL Draft. As a result, a bizarre narrative suggesting Poles didn’t believe in Fields began to spawn.

So when the Bears made a huge investment in Fields by trading their 2023 second-round pick for WR Chase Claypool, those same pundits would certainly praise Poles, right?

Wrong.

ESPN’s Seth Walder gave the Bears a D+ for their decision to trade for Chase Claypool:

“All the reasons the Bears were better off dealing Roquan Smith than keeping him make this decision puzzling. It’s not the exact same scenario — Claypool has another cheap year on his rookie deal after this — but part of his value was what he could offer in the second half of 2022, which doesn’t matter to a rebuilding Chicago. Or it shouldn’t.

Claypool is an OK receiver. He ranks 76th out of 102 wide receivers with at least 100 routes in yards per route run this season, but he’s done that with poor quarterback play. In our Receiver Tracking Metrics Claypool has an Overall Score of 63, which ranks 24th among wide receivers and tight ends. That’s a massive upgrade from last season, when he recorded just a 39 Overall Score, 89th out of 109 qualifiers.”

This isn’t all that surprising. The Bears have been a punching bag for football media since the summer. They’re all-in on trashing Chicago. Giving the Bears credit at this point in the season would, in a way, force them to admit they’re wrong. And we know how rare that level of self-awareness is.

Imagine a scenario in which the Green Bay Packers traded for Claypool. Or, perhaps, the Kansas City Chiefs. The move would be lauded as one that changes the landscape of the NFL. Claypool wouldn’t be described as an ‘OK’ receiver. He’d be viewed as the missing piece for a championship run.

The easiest way for the Bears to prove they made the right decision in their trade for Chase Claypool is to feature the physical freak down the stretch of the 2022 season. Once he gets comfortable with the offense and Fields, incredible big plays should follow. It’ll be quite the sight for a ‘D+’ acquisition.

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